Since their initial agreements decades ago, the agreement today comes amid concerns that further delay would dampen regional development efforts.
Our Kim Ji-yeon is live at Seoul’s defense ministry.
Ji-yeon, of the 12 bases returned today are plots of the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul. Now, this is the first time that sites from Yongsan have been returned, correct?
That’s right two parcels of the Garrison including the South Post are being returned and will be turned into a national park.
Also among the returned installations is Camp Kim in Seoul’s Yongsan-gu district where the government has said it plans to build a public housing complex to help tackle the chronic housing shortage.
The returned installation in Jung-gu District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District will be used to build a specialized hospital for infectious diseases.
Outside of Seoul, there are sites where local governments and residents have demanded their prompt return out of concern that further delays would harm public health and the environment and result in greater economic costs.
In total, a combined one-and-a-half million square meters of land has returned today.
Although a first for Yongsan, this isn’t the first time the U.S. has returned military sites to Korea. Any progress on how to shoulder the decontamination and cleanup costs?
You’re absolutely right the two sides seems to be still in consultations regarding the decontamination issue.
An official from Seoul’s defense ministry said future talks will go forward in establishing a mutually acceptable standard for the U.S. to shoulder some of the costs under the U.S. principle of KISE an acronym for the Known Imminent Substantial Endangerment to Human Health following the 201st joint committee meeting on the Status of Forces Agreement held via videoconference earlier today.
“The two sides through SOFA agreed to come up with standards for joint environmental surveys and to make improvements in the survey and reporting process in case of contamination.”
So far, the Korean government has finished decontaminating 24 returned U.S. bases at a cost of over 200 million U.S. dollars.
Another 90 million dollars was spent to clean up three of the four bases that were returned last year.
The allies have continued this year to conduct surveys to determine the costs of decontaminating the rest of them.
Back to you.